The Red Rock Train (Story by R.C. Peris)

First of all, there are two bases on Mars. Base Z is primarily for scientists and engineers and Base S for was manual laborers, artists, writers and others who didn’t fit into Base Z. Base Z was considered the “highest of bases”. I found it strange that there was such a hierarchy in a place far from Earth. I was a writer and journalist who decided to venture to Mars to trigger my creativity and report back to Earth about advancements in interstellar travel. Honestly, my boyfriend had dumped and I needed to escape Chicago, which was overpopulated with people fleeing coastal cities that were sinking or underwater.

At 10 AM Mars time, I had an interview scheduled with Dr. Everett who was working on hyperdrive technology for interstellar space travel. Connecting Base Z and Base S was the Red Rock train, which buzzed across the Martian landscape in 12 minutes. The conductor, once I boarded and situated myself, walked down the aisle of the train and counted the passengers.

“There should only be twelve. But I’m counting thirteen,” he said. No one really paid attention to him. To board the train we scanned our bracelets. The bracelets gave us wifi, took calls, handled emails, sounded alarms, and allowed us entry to certain places. The Red Rock train was one of them.

“Only twelve people scanned, but I count thirteen people.” The conductor, an older man with a serious look, scratched his whiskers. I only paid attention because the train wasn’t moving. The conductor hadn’t given the all clear. If we were delayed three more minutes I would be late for my interview.

“What’s going on?” I asked.

“There’s someone unauthorized on this train.” The conductor walked the aisle and counted again.
I was impatient. There was a woman sitting across from with a lovely smile on her face.

“This is annoying,” I said. “Don’t you think?”

The woman, with shoulder length hair, continued to smile and said nothing.

“Do you have an appointment on Base Z?” I asked. The woman kept smiling. Her eyes were dead. There was something alarming about her. I signaled to the conductor and that’s when the woman peeled off her face and revealed a red, large-eyed creature with monstrous lips. In an instant, she was crawling on the ceiling of the train and tore off the head of the conductor. On my bracelet, I whispered that we were under alien attack. The Red Rock Train was ground zero. It was the place humans met another life form. I lost my voice as the alien quickly crawled its way to me and extended its tongue to lick me. I either passed out or died. I think I died. I was back in Chicago in a tiny apartment in a building stuffed with humans escaping coastal flooding. And it was hot. Global warming can do that. Ask me again and I would choose the alien every time.

THE END

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